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Panther Hands-On @ Apple Expo

Apple Expo Paris may yield more than just a Panther demonstration by CEO Steve Jobs. According to continually reliable sources, Apple Expo will mark the first 'hands-on' Mac OS X 10.3 Panther event. Unlike previous events over the summer, Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, will invite all expo attendees to try-out the new version of Mac OS X immediately following his keynote address.

For the past three days a group of Apple employees from both Apple Americas and Apple Europe have been working 17 hour days on the site of the expo. The team is responsible for imaging some 500 machines with the latest builds of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther. According to one source, the team was delivered the most stable and recent builds of the OS for both desktops and portables when they arrived.

The latest known build of Panther is 7B63 — which appeared on Wednesday — and may very well be the build of choice for the expo. Though completed, this build has yet to be seeded to Apple's highly trafficked Developer Connection servers and may contain a few surprises. Not all Apple units will be running the new Panther, sources said, as some of the new PowerBooks will be running a final copy of Mac OS X 10.2.7 Blackrider, which was provided to show engineers via CD just prior to their departure for Paris.

Original projections for an official retail launch of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther had been locked to October 3rd. With late September approaching, and the system still shy of final candidate status, sources are now preaching slightly later dates. One such date is Saturday, October 25th. Neither date has officially been confirmed, though Jobs is expected to make the announcement during his keynote speech on Tuesday.